Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Am Flughafen

This will be posted later, but it’s Tuesday, the 19th of May, as I write this, late afternoon, and I’m at Newark airport, awaiting my flight to Germany. I got here sehr early, because, well, late-afternoon/early-evening traffic around New York City can suck (that’s a technical term), and I prefer to hang with the hangars a while than to wind up in a traffic jam on the Garden State Parkway, with my blood pressure at 175/110, wondering whether I’ll make my flight.

Happily, just down the concourse from my gate is a nice an acceptable bar that serves acceptable quite nice Brooklyn beer. They have a few varieties on tap, but I favour the Hefeweizen, which is what I’ll be drinking after the dancing over the next several days. One can’t go into that sort of thing cold and unpractised, though, so I have to get my legs on, as it were.

“Hefeweizen”, for those who aren’t into beer, is an unfiltered wheat beer that’s popular in Germany, and increasingly popular in the U.S. as well. Its name comes from the German words Hefe (yeast) and Weizen wheat, and it’s also sometimes called Weisse (white), though it’s yellow (gelb) in colour, not white. We can readily get Paulaner, Franziskaner, and Weihenstephaner brands here in the states, and there’s an increasing number of American brewers making it too, including Samuel Adams... and the Brooklyn Brewery.

WeizenglasAnd the thing is, in Germany it’s served in a particular style of glass. The Weizenglas has a very solid, heavy base, and then tapers above that to form a sort of low “waist” before it widens again with a curve, ending in a flared or bowl-like top. It’s sort of like a tall hourglass with a bit of a bowl stuck on (see right). Very elegant, really, a nice glass to drink beer from.

But the Germans are quite particular about their beer glasses, and Hefeweizen is served only in those glasses — and only Hefeweizen is served in them. PilsglasThere are other glasses for Pils (see left), for Altbier, for Kölsch, and so on.

Alas, at the bar in the concourse at Newark airport they are not so particular, and so I am presented with beer heresy: the affable and helpful bartender, who says “Hefeweizen” with practiced confidence, nevertheless serves it to me in a Guinness glass. This despite that they do, indeed have Weizengläser here; I know this because a woman near me is drinking her brown ale from one (Aiiiiieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!).

In any case, it’s kind of fun to be at the airport: there are so many happy people here. People are going on vacation and are happily anticipating their fun. People are returning home and, nice though their trips were, are looking forward to being back. There are two women and a man over there, looking at a tourist guidebook to Spain. And over on this side are two German men, perhaps going home, perhaps on the same flight I’m on. One of them has a booklet for the North Sea Jazz Festival, which seems to go well with the upbeat Billie Holiday song playing on the music system right now.

There’s a family in the corner, Mom and Dad having beer, and the kids in obvious delight over wherever it is they’re about to embark for.

And as I look out the window, there’s a Continental jet called the “Robert F. Six” (who knew they had names?) looming large in front of me, having food and baggage loaded into it. And there’s the Empire State Building and the rest of the New York City skyline in the distance.


lidija said...

Interesting. We just flew from Newark to Germany (on our way to Montenegro). I sure did not have any time for beer.

Call me Paul said...

Interestingly, what you call the Weizenglas is sold in these parts as a "Pilsner Glass." As is what you identify as the Pils glass. Not very beer educated here in Southern Ontario. Most bars you go into have "Canadian" and Coors Light on tap. If they're adventurous, they might have Rickard's Red (which is pretty much just Canadian with a bit of red food colouring thrown in). The so-called "Irish" pubs will have Guinness on tap...and Canadian and Coors Light. It's so hard to find a nice beer anywhere but my own fridge.